Frankfurt Airport, Easter Monday a few years back. I tell my husband to enjoy his flight home from our holiday; I go on to take a plane to London, saying I don’t know exactly when I’ll be coming home. And I couldn’t say why.
This was nothing new, working in a leadership position in a large enterprise. I had stopped using Facebook a long time ago to tell people where I travelled and other things that could give away strategic information or lead to speculation. This time, I was going to work on one of the largest acquisitions in Finnish business history.
Fast forward some years, I’m joining Cocomms as Senior Advisor of Change Management. I will be drawing on my long experience in working in pivotal positions in companies undergoing transformation. In my career I have renewed strategies, integrated acquired companies, launched a new company, downsized, and expanded – I have done any and every change you can name really. I feel excited of the opportunity to use what I learnt to the benefit of Cocomms’ clients.
In today’s world, fast moving technological changes provide new opportunities in any industry while price pressures, unsteady political situations, climate change, and fierce competition put almost any well-managed business on a path of constant renewal. How this renewal is made makes a big difference in terms of success.
Working in transformation, I was often asked how I could work on large restructuring projects. Did I not feel bad for the people affected? I always answered honestly: When I felt the project was necessary for the company’s success and its being able to provide employment for many in the future, I thought it was right to make the changes as long as they were done in an ethical, moral, legal, and respectful manner.
Transformation also brings many positive things with it. We could make changes to enhance the way we worked among ourselves and with customers. We could innovate. In my senior roles, I could help young talented employees make their ideas go from dreams to reality. We could build the future together, and this made me feel happy and proud.
And what makes for a successful renewal?
I would go as far as to say that today management IS in many ways change management. And what differentiates one business from another is likely to be their people and the way they work. This means that steering your business in today’s world is above all a change management task.
In the following you will find the factors I consider most important in managing change successfully, laying the foundation for a thriving business:
1 Be inclusive
Involve your employees in the strategy formation process and change plans to benefit from crowd intelligence and co-creation opportunities. When defining targets, set the bar high: your people should make your business competitive now and in the future. Again, let everyone contribute by coming up with ways to reach the targets. The HOW is often as important as the WHAT. And decide, decide, decide, what you DO and DON’T do. Make sure there is fast, two-way communications all the time.
2 Listen to your people
Make sure the company’s strategy is understood clearly as well as any changes to it. Understanding arises from allowing people to wonder, ask questions, and make sense of the new situation. Your role is to listen and support them in their quest for understanding. Help employees relate to what the changes mean in their roles.
Of course, first make sure roles are clear and targets set, understood, and communicated, owners defined and committed. Have strong systems for following how targets are achieved so you can tackle any deviations when there is still time to fix things.
3 Repeat, repeat, and repeat
Continue to repeat the company’s mission, vision, and strategy continuously, as repetition is the key to success in all learning! At the same time, be conscious of the environment and be ready to tweak your strategy and targets when needed.
4 Keep your focus on clients
Help everyone in the company concentrate on what really matters: execution of the strategy. Focus on your clients. When working on divestments and other topics not part of the future strategy, keep the work separate and clearly define which few people work on them. Make sure you enable your biggest asset, your people, to work on what matters the most for the future! This is what differentiates a successful company from others.
Let us know how we at Cocomms can support you in your quest for more open, transparent, and inspiring change management, and in this way contribute to your company’s success. Looking forward to cooperating with you in the future.
Senior Advisor, Change Management